My theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is Creativity. Today, I discuss Brainstorming!
This is an interesting 2012 article from The New Yorker on brainstorming.
According to the article, brainstorming is a concept created by Alex Osborn, an advertising professional who wrote: “The more you rub your creative lamp, the more alive you feel.” He presented his idea of brainstorming in his book Your Creative Power published in 1948.
The article—and Osborn’s concept—focus on group brainstorming. Of Osborn’s “rules for brainstorming,” he felt the most important to be the absence of criticism and negative feedback. “Creativity is so delicate a flower,” he wrote, “that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it in the bud.”
Now, from the results of various studies, some have concluded that brainstorming doesn’t work. Their premise for this conclusion is, as Charlan Nemeth, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley said after a 2003 study, “While the instruction ‘Do not criticize’ is often cited as the important instruction in brainstorming, this appears to be a counterproductive strategy. Our findings show that debate and criticism do not inhibit ideas but, rather, stimulate them relative to every other condition.”
I can see their point that conflict can be stimulating, but I also believe brainstorming can be a good thing to boost your creativity. I believe brainstorming takes you out of the constrictions you may have placed yourself in (most likely unconsciously), making it difficult to “think outside the box,” thus inhibiting your creativity.
And brainstorming doesn’t have to be only used in group activities. It’s a great tool to use for yourself, no matter what your creative outlet is.
Many professionals promote the use of mind maps. I’ve never used one, but they look like they could be a good tool. I’m not going to go into that in this post, but there’s lots of information about mind mapping on the web. Here’s one article if you’re interested.
Today, I just want to touch on basic brainstorming.
There are different methods for brainstorming. One article suggested timing your brainstorming session, but for me that would add tension, making your brainstorming session counterproductive.
For your brainstorming session, you should find a quiet place by yourself where you won’t be disturbed.
Write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how dumb it may sound. Remember, nobody but you needs to read the notes from your brainstorming session. Osborn wrote: “Forget quality; aim now to get a quantity of answers. When you’re through, your sheet of paper may be so full of ridiculous nonsense that you’ll be disgusted. Never mind. You’re loosening up your unfettered imagination—making your mind deliver.”
Once you’re done brainstorming, you can organize your ideas into categories. You can also expand on the ones that appeal to you, and set aside the ones that you think won’t work. (I wouldn’t get rid of them entirely. What came from your subconscious may be valuable later!)
It’s best to implement your ideas while they’re still fresh, at least in rough form, such as a rough draft if you’re writing.
What’s your opinion on brainstorming? Do you think it’s a good tool to unleash your creativity?